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Mark R. Offline OP
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Dear piano techs,

I've been fortunate enough to inherit a harpsichord (Rainer Schütze, Heidelberg / Germany, mid-1970s, historic replica in the Flamish Ruckers family style, two 8' stops, one of them mutable as a lute).

When the instrument was still with my parents (since new), I often tuned it and did minor repairs, e.g. adjusted or replaced quills, adjusted dampers, etc.

I would now like to do a basic regulation. After 45 years of use, key dip / height are still reasonably consistent, but let-off is all over the show, partly because the cloth strips on the back of the keys, on which the jacks rest, have been compacted, and the jack pilot screws vary considerably in their position. I've already removed the keyboard from the cavity for cleaning and inspection.

1) Key-leveling and key-dip:
The keyboard has a simple felt strip on the front rail and back rail, and the only means for adjustment of key height and key dip are balance rail punchings (which I have available, from my piano work). The weight of the jacks keeps the keys down on the back rail, but I would use a small weight while the keyboard is out of the instrument.

2) Let-off:
The point in the keystroke at which the plectrum plucks the string, is adjusted by a pilot screw at the bottom end of the jack, i.e. turning out the screw raises the jack and results in earlier let-off and correspondingly more aftertouch.

Intuitively, from a player's perspective, I would say the let-off needs to be somewhere close to mid-point.
... Too early, and the finger cannot gain momentum, making for uneven touch.
... Too late, and there is too little aftertouch, making one press into the front rail, and the note sounds too late.

I'm also aware that the low bass strings have more "give" before the plectrum starts to bend, i.e. those keys definitely need sufficient key dip.

Do any of you have any standard reference values for typical harpsichord regulation? I'd be most obliged.

Last edited by Mark R.; 04/20/21 06:49 AM. Reason: correction

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1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.
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Hi Mark. Welcome back.
Carey Beebe has a very extensive website that should help you:
Carey Beebe


Chris Leslie
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http://www.chrisleslie.com.au
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Mark R. Offline OP
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Hi Chris, and thanks for the welcome, which I truly appreciate.
It's been a while... and much has happened and changed, including weathering a divorce. But my love for keyboard instruments, playing and working on them, and refining them, hasn't.

I've also done some online searching, and I found a thread on the PTG site that has lots of useful information, amongst others on getting the damping right while still allowing register/rank shifting.
https://my.ptg.org/communities/community-home/digestviewer/viewthread?GroupId=1195&MID=240872

I'll be sure to look at Carey Beebe's site in more detail. In fact, I'd already unwittingly run across it while searching some pictures and English terminology.


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1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.
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Hubbard wrote a pamphlet, Harpsichord Regulating and Repairing. You might be able to find a copy.


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Mark R. Offline OP
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Thanks, all, for your kind tips. I think I'm well on the way to finding and incorporating good information.

I had a more detailed look at Carey Beebe's webpage, and was impressed by the numerous resources, grouped into categories, including instructive movie clips.

In parallel, I've started with some basics on my instrument, like easing the balance holes of many keys. The back end of each key is fitted with a little plastic guide eye that runs up and down a back rail pin, but these have practically zero friction. The only real friction point of the keys is on the balance rail pin, and on closer inspection, once I realised how light and sensitive the whole mechanism is, compared to the piano, it became clear that the keyboard was running very unevenly. The key balance hole easer (Schaff #43) I bought some time ago, proved invaluable in controlling the easing process without creating pulley keys.


Autodidact interested in piano technology.
LinkedIn profile
1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

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